Covid-19 22.05.20


Friday 22nd May 2020


Dear Parents and Carers

As a Trust we have taken steps to access digital support from the Government for disadvantaged families who do not have access to a device through another source; eligible students are defined as being:

  • Care Leavers
  • Children and young people 0-19 with a Social Worker
  • Disadvantaged Year 10 pupils

We have managed to secure a number of devices through this scheme and with support from the Borough; they are due to be delivered to schools in June.

Extended Opening Planning
There continues to be much debate and speculation about the “extended opening” of schools. I use this term because as we know schools have remained open throughout, albeit for a reduced number of students. While we cannot state at this stage what form any extended opening will take or when since we are governed by the Governments decisions re lockdown, what we can do is outline the planning process and the considerations we have taken into account.

I am sharing these here to help alleviate anxieties and concerns that may arise and to reassure that extensive planning is underway. Within this we are considering both the development of home learning and the eventual extension of school opening for all or some students.

Areas we are planning around (areas cover all Union guidance)

  • Preparing the Site
    This includes cleaning and before, after and during any opening. Additionally we are assessing the practicalities of social distancing and the increased use of space this will entail. We will be commissioning a Health and Safety survey before any decision is made to reopen to ensure that it is safe to do so.
  • Reviewing Staff availability in school
    We anticipate reduced staffing due to illness and isolation. This will affect what we can offer and is further affected by reducing class sizes.
  • Group sizes
    Any partial return will be based on reduced class sizes to accommodate social distancing requirements.
  • Practical steps to reduce risks
    This includes arrival and departure from school.
  • Support for SEND students
  • Communications with Staff/Parents/Students
    We would very much like to engage parents, staff and students in the planning process. Some of this will need to be by survey but we would also like to establish staff and parent forums in addition to utilising student voice.
  • Managing student and staff well being and mental health (key driver)
    Any return will focus primarily on a recovery curriculum, enabling students to process the impact of lockdown and come to terms with what this has meant for them. Similarly we are conscious of the impact on staff and ensuring their welfare and wellbeing.
  • Online learning platforms

Whatever form extended opening takes online learning will continue to be a feature in the future. There will be gaps in student’s learning which will take time to close and on line learning will be an essential part of that solution. We therefore have teams across the Trust working on how we might improve upon and extend this. We realise that currently this has not been successful for everyone and we want to address this. Moving forward there will be more interaction and greater use of webinars. The Odyssey Online Curriculum will be available to students from both schools initially in the core subjects. Access will be for certain year groups first. Details will be sent out in future communications.

It is important at this stage that we are realistic about what students and parents can expect when we do eventually extend our opening. It will not be possible initially to provide subject specific teaching and students will not follow their regular timetable. Given the considerations above this is inevitable but we hope to return to more standard structures as soon as circumstances allow. It may also be necessary to stagger the school day and in fact only open for part of the week for half year groups. This enables social distancing and any deep cleaning necessary.

More detailed information will follow after half term on the plans for phased return to school being fully open but at this stage we cannot give any specific dates. All decisions will of course be made in line with updated Government guidance.

Thank you for your patience and understanding during this time. I do hope this information goes someway to reassuring you.

The DfE issued further guidance yesterday aimed at parents of secondary school children. Please follow this link.

We would like to wish you all a restful and safe half term.

Take care and stay safe

Desmond Deehan

CEO/Executive Headteacher

Odyssey Trust for Education

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